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Plant - fall
Mahan Park
John Kava
Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Schizachyrium scoparium - little bluestem

Synonyms: Andropogon scoparius, Schizachyrium scoparium, Andropogon scoparius, Andropogon divergens, Schizachyrium scoparium

Plant Form:Grass

Family: Poaceae

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Plant - fall

Mahan Park Sue Smith
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Base of plant

Mahan Park Sue Smith
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Seedhead - fall

Mahan Park Sue Smith
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Seed close-up

Mahan Park John Kava
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Mahan Park John Kava
  Grass Description -   Glossary of Grass Terminology

Origin: Native    Season: Warm
Habitat Description: Oak and juniper woodlands, pine forests, mountain meadows.
Plant Communities: Pinyon Juniper Woodland, Montane Conifer Forest
Elevation: 5000 - 7500 feet

General Description

Desc: Often grows in a columnar bunch. Seedhead is tightly contracted to stem. Foliage is a distinct bronze-orange color when it cures in late summer or early fall. Rhizomes are absent or very short.
Identification notes: An erect bunchgrass; flat bluish basal shoots in the spring; plants turn to a reddish color after frost. The Inflorescence has paired spikelets at each node, one sessile, the other pedicellate, the flowering stems are white-ciliate (haired).
Grass Type: Perennial bunchgrass  Rhizomes: Y  Stolons: N
Large Dense Clump (> 2 feet): N  Bushy (highly branched): N
Height with Seedheads: Greater than 36 inches
Seedhead Structure: Branched - contracted  Seedhead Droops: N
Flowering Period: Jul - 0

Flower Characteristics

Number of Flowers per Spikelet: Multi-flowered  Spikelets One-sided: N
Awns: 1/4 inch to 1 inch   Three Awns: N  Awns Bent: Y

Flower and Seedhead Notes: Seedhead is a single stem with some stalked and some sessile spikelets. Main axis and branches are strongly hairy.

Vegetative Characteristics

Blade Hairy: Y  Blade with White Margin: N  Blade Cross Section: Flat or folded  
Blade Notes: Blade flat or folded, 3 to 18 inches long, less than 1/4 inch wide, smooth or hairy.
Sheath Hairy: N  Tuft of Hairs Top of Sheath or Collar: N  Ligules: Membranous and hairy
Auricles (Ear-like lobes at base of blades): Y
Vegetative Notes: Sheaths rounded or keeled, smooth or covered with fine short soft hairs or down; ligules less than 1/8 inch long, collars neither elongated nor narrowed. Blades usually 3 to 5 inches long, sometimes up to 10 inches long.

Forage Value: Good while immature for all classes of livestock; after mature, fair for cattle and horses, but too coarse for sheep or goats. Seed is eaten by songbirds and upland gamebirds. The plant provides cover for ground birds and small mammals.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Feb 16, 2020  
Content Questions/Comments: Email Jeff Schalau  
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